I have deliberately kept out of the discussion on authorship to date but I’ll add my thoughts here seeing as all our other contributors have commented. I agree totally that too much in the past has been made of differences in style, ecclesiology, theology, etc. and I am pleased that recent scholarship has questioned the basis on which the old scholarly consensus was formed. Perry also rightly raises the question of these letters initial reception. Richard Bauckham addresses this question in “Pseudo-Apostolic Letters”, JBL 107 (1988), 469-94. He writes: “For any pseudepigraphical letter which has the didactic aims of NT letters must find some such way of bridging the gap between the supposed addressee(s) and the real readers, which the pseudepigraphical letter as a genre seems necesarily to create” (p. 476). Bauckham argues that material in the PE concerning false teaching fulfils this function (p. 493). Furthermore, he argues, if the situation “Paul” foresees after his death is the situation of the real readers, then Timothy and Titus are part of this situation. Consequently, if the PE are pseudepigraphical, then they have to be written, on Bauckham’s analysis, within the lifetime of Timothy and Titus (and with their full collusion).
I reach similar conclusions by an entirely different route. I have argued that the PE function sociologically as a literary form of a status degradation ceremony. For this to work sociologically this means that at least Timothy and Titus, if not Paul (as the prime actors), have to be real actors in the ceremony. This means either they are authentic (all 3 actors are real) or they are written within the lifetime of Timothy and Titus (i.e. within one generation of Paul’s death).
Neither Bauckham’s analysis or mine, of course, proves the inauthenticity of the PE but Bauckham persuasively, both in the above article and in his Word commentary on 2 Peter, argues for the inauthenticity of the latter. He roots the procedure of 2 Peter in the conventions of Jewish testamentary genre: “The pseudepigraphal device is therefore not a fraudulent means of claiming apostolic authority, but embodies a claim to be a faithful mediator of the apostolic message. Recognizing the canonicity of 2 Peter means recognizing the validity of that claim, and it is not clear that this is so alien to the early church’s criteria of canonicity as is sometimes alleged” Richard J. Bauckham, vol. 50, Word Biblical Commentary: 2 Peter, Jude (Dallas: Word, 2002), 161. Do others here accept the pseudepigraphical nature of 2 Peter?
If there is at least one pseudepigraphical letter in the NT canon we cannot therefore argue on theological/ideological grounds alone for the authenticity of the PE. I personally find, despite the reservations of my colleagues here, Howard Marshall’s allonymity arguments persuasive.